The River Course, designed by Ault, Clark and Associates and built in 1998-99, was acquired from private owners in 2002 by The River Course LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation. Bordered by 2 1/2 miles of the scenic New River, the well-designed but under-developed course had significant potential. The "clubhouse" consisted of a 14 X 60 foot mobile trailer with a single unisex restroom. Covered metal sheds served as a "cart barn" and a small garage provided a maintenance building. The driving range/practice area needed significant improvements.
Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates was engaged to develop an overall site plan which would include proposed locations for a new clubhouse and maintenance facility along with specific improvements to the range and practice facility. The golf course and the suggestions set forth in the site plan generated immediate interest from many alumni who expressed interest in supporting efforts to create a championship quality facility.
In 2003, the driving range/practice facility was rebuilt to include enlarged teeing areas, target greens and bunkers, and separate short game practice areas. The generosity of long-time Va Tech golf supporters, Buddy and Doris Nevaisor made this possible.
Simultaneously, Tech alumnus and philanthropists Bill Goodwin and wife, Alice, asked their friend, Pete Dye, to consider converting The River Course into a world class course.After visiting the course, Dye outlined his ideas which involved moving and rebuilding all 18 greens reshaping most fairways, rerouting at least two holes, exposing the natural rock formations, replacing fast growing trees and weeds with native hardwoods, and opening the views of the river and the railway on the far river bank. The plan would lengthen the course to over 7500 yards with 5 sets of tees. Tee boxes would be located near the previous green to make the course more ‘walking’ friendly. Wanting to provide a state-of-the-art facility for the golf team and recognizing the need for a maintenance facility, the Goodwin’s asked that a plan be developed to include those facilities. Plans were accepted by the Goodwin’s and in late 2003 they committed to the reconstruction of the golf course, a fully appointed team training center, and a properly equipped maintenance facility. The total cost of these projects approached $5 million. Construction continued though 2004 and most of 2005 with formal dedication and renaming on June 5th, 2006, of The Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech.Through the Goodwin’s generosity and the creativity of Pete Dye, Virginia Tech now had a world-class golf course to serve the university community, the golfing public, and provide a home for the university golf team. During the dedication, university President Steger announced a $2 million commitment from the Williams-Berry Charitable Trust in support of the construction of a new clubhouse. Harry (’55) and Patsy Williams were supporters of Virginia Tech athletics and academics and involved in the university community. The trust had been established to continue their philanthropic endeavors.
In 2006, Golf Digest recognized the course as a Best New Courseand in 2007 as the 4th Best Newly Remodeled golf course in America – a tribute to Dye and to the River Course staff responsible for the grow-in and finishing.
The Williams-Berry gift stimulated fund raising efforts for the clubhouse and accelerated the design and planning process. Many commitments of financial support to the project came from alumni, friends, and Tech related organizations. National recognition of the quality of the course brought additional attention to the need for the clubhouse. In the fall of 2007, the Virginia Tech Foundation approved construction of the clubhouse. Ideas and concepts were translated to specific plans, a general contractor was selected and ground was broken in May of 2008 for the $5.5 million project.
The challenges of the construction site along with heavy rains during initial phases of excavation and heavy snows during the winter extended an expected 14 month construction time into a 24 month project. Additionally, the construction site and activity presented a special set of challenges to the daily operation of the golf course. The staff remained diligent in their commitment to providing a quality golf experience to every golfer and in 2009, Golf Digest awarded the course a 4 ½ star rating and included it in its Best Places to Play.This recognition elevated the course to a select group that includes courses at The Homestead, The Greenbrier, Kingsmill, and Pinehurst.
Golf operations moved to the clubhouse in early May of 2010 and the Harry S.and Patsy B. Williams Clubhouse was officially dedicated on October 28th, 2010. Joining university officials, donors and golf enthusiasts for the dedication were Bill and Alice Goodwin, Pete Dye, and Jane L. Sheffey,trustee of the Williams-Berry Charitable Foundation Trust.
The clubhouse has quickly become a premier venue not only for golf, but for meetings, conferences, receptions, weddings, or an elegant, informal dinner with friends in the Hackin' Hokies Lounge.